Communications of the Association for Information Systems


One can use trust networks to find trustworthy information, people, products, and services on public networks. Hence, they have the potential to combine the advantages of search, recommendation systems, and social networks. But proper design and correct incentives are critical to the success of such networks. In this paper, I propose a trust network architecture that emphasizes simplicity and robustness. I propose a trust network with constrained trust relationships and design a decentralized search and recommendation process. I create both informational and monetary incentives to encourage joining the network, to investigate and discover other trustworthy agents, and to make commitments to them by trusting them, by insuring them, or even by directly investing in them. I show that making the correct judgments about trustworthiness of others and reporting it truthfully are the optimum strategies since they reward the agents both with information by providing access to more of the network and with monetary payments by paying them for their services as information intermediaries. The extensive income potential from the trust connections creates strong incentives to join the network, to create reliable trust connections, and to report them truthfully.